Last evening I had the opportunity to see the documentary “Angst, Anxiety is treatable – It is okay to say” at Broadneck High School. First congratulations to Broadneck and the feeder schools for their effort to bring this documentary to both the students, parents, and community. This film “explores anxiety, its causes, effects, and what we can do about it.” The film was very well done and the panel that followed was excellent also in answering questions from the audience.
If you were not able to make it to the showing, I am hopeful that other schools or faith groups will follow the lead of Broadneck. The issue of anxiety is pervasive not just among students, but also among adults including parents and teachers. The fears that plague many individuals range from the fear of inadequacy, not being good enough, rejection, abandonment, and of being judged.
Anxiety may become apparent in many ways starting with a general anxiousness that shows up with worrying excessively about many things and having physical reactions to that worry. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, social phobia, panic attacks or posttraumatic stress disorder are all different levels and types of anxiety disorders.
While it can be hard to understand where anxiety comes from, especially when we see it in very young persons the list is long and there is no one reason. It may include trauma, stress, personality, other mental health conditions, or having blood relatives who have an anxiety disorder. The specific causes are not really known, though some 1 out of 8 individuals are affected and it is commonly thought that the cause may be some combination of factors.
In the end, there were a number of proposed ways of treating the disorder, most of them by professionals, but what struck me the strongest were two things. First was what Michael Phelps said after his visit with a young man who was dealing with anxiety, was a swimmer and looked up to Michael Phelps. His quote was:
“We already have the tools inside of us to get through things.”
This really struck me because when you are working through the anxiety you certainly do not feel that, unless you have the continued support of those around you. So what can we do as non-professionals, as parents and caretakers, who just want to support our loved ones, young or older? Here is what I took from the film and the panel.
- Learn to Listen
- Do not judge or rush to judgment
- Ask questions
The person with the disorder already feels like nothing is right or going right for them. We need to focus on what is good about the person, Listen with empathy and compassion. We are not there to save them or rescue them we are simply there to support them – “we already have the tools inside of us to get through things”.
Ask questions that are open-ended, accept each other for who we are and see the what is right about each other.
As I think about that, it sounds like good advice for all of us – with an anxiety disorder or not.
I highly recommend this documentary for everyone to see.
Want to learn more about how to listen and ask questions that support your child and loved ones, bringing out the best in them and yourself? I help parents and teachers speak a language that acknowledges the virtues of each student. – Joe@balancedlifeskills.com